Contagious Joy

Our dear Vincent Wayne Chaney passed away on December 11, 2020, just one day shy of the 6 year anniversary of his mother’s death, which is referenced in this post. Nearly six years after first writing these words, I am resharing them in loving memory of ourUncle Baby.”

Have you ever met someone who exudes true Godly joy in the midst of every situation? Or someone who wears a genuine smile daily and overflows such copious amounts of joy that their joy actually becomes contagious?

These unicorns are extremely rare, few and far beyond. It takes someone created extra special by the hands of God to carry this contagious joy. 

Unfortunately, not everyone receives the gift of having this type of person in their life. My family and me are some of the lucky ones because God chose us to love and be loved by my Uncle Vince.

ma pa vin

Uncle Vincey (dad’s older brother) was born with Down Syndrome–a genetic abnormality in which a person has one extra chromosome (47 instead of 46), causing both cognitive and physical impairments. 

The molecules in that extra chromosome create a type of beauty and love that most of us are incapable of producing, no matter how hard we try. 

Vincent lived with us off and on for short periods of time over the last 4-5 years, whenever his mother (Mamaw) was in the hospital. In light of my Mamaw’s death (12/2014), Vince became a permanent member of this home. 

Though we wish he could’ve stayed in the place where he is most familiar and comfortable, we are thrilled to have him here in our home. At times I question how I ever existed without seeing him each and every day. Through his unconditional love and contagious joy, Vincent has become a very important part of my healing process.

During spring break in high school, my youth group took mission trips to Riverwood, TN where we served at a group home for adults with special needs. Upon arrival, our youth minister, Chris, always said, “This place is the closest you will ever get to Heaven on Earth.” 

That, was an understatement. 

River wood was filled with genuine hearts, beaming smiles, unconditional love, loads of laughter, and of course contagious joy. I absolutely adored being surrounded by a group of people just like my beloved uncle.

vincent dancing vin dances

In the time following Mamaw’s passing, Vince was a source of encouragement to every member of the Chaney family. He’s infamous for being a lover– he can never give or receive enough hugs and kisses. 

Gathering in Mamaw’s house to make funeral arrangements, reminisce, and spend time as a family, Vince kept us smiling as he danced his heart out to his favorite style of music–oldies.

And though he was facing the loss of his last living parent and being forced to leave his home of 40+ years, he seemed to be celebrating his momma’s beautiful new life in Heaven rather than lamenting the end of her old life here on Earth. 

Yes, he had/has his moments of sadness, tears and grief but he is not overcome by them…those hard moments cannot darken his spirit. Nothing can steal his joy because it comes from the only source of authentic joy, The Almighty Lord God.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“Do not grieve for the JOY of The Lord is your STRENGH.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

In the midst of my most painful moments one smile, one hug, one kiss, or one look from Vincent brings relief, even if just for a second. In that moment I am able to forget my sorrows as I stare into a face that so clearly resembles Jesus. 

Christians strive to love others like Jesus, refrain from judgement and see others as better than ourselvesThese commands prove to be brutally challenging and impossible to consistently keep…

Vincent is the one person I know who ALWAYS loves with no bounds. 

He sees straight to the heart…it doesn’t matter who you are, where your from, what you’ve done or will do, Vince loves with his genuine heart and treats everyone as the most special person on Earth. He admires with innocent eyes and welcomes with open arms. He will likely do something to brighten your day no matter how dark it may be. He will not judge your past or hold any actions against you. He is unconditionally loving, forgiving, and joyful. 

I wish I could view things through Vincent’s sweet eyes; in fact, I wish we all could because it would radically change the world we live in.

His faith is on a level that mine will never be able to reach… the love of Jesus shines blindingly bright through the life of my sweet Uncle Vincey. His life is creating a lasting legacy of the most wonderful kind. I believe it is impossible to know this man and not believe in the existence of our gracious Father and His perfect only Son.

Living with Uncle Vince full time has been an adjustment for everyone involved. The addition of another person to our home is challenging at times… overall it’s a glorious blessing. One of my favorite new routines is our Saturday morning cuddle session.

Mornings are often one of the hardest/most painful parts of my day…on Saturday morning Vincey changes that for me. When he climbs onto my bed, under my warm comforter, and into my arms I’m instantly filled with heartwarming joy. He has a magical healing property that I know is a gift from God.

And that’s exactly what my Uncle Vince is…a perfect gift from God, brought into this world to spread His amazing love and contagious joy. 

4 thoughts on “Contagious Joy

  1. What a wonderful tribute to a very special person. I shall never forget how my uncle Jr
    Loved and cared for Venice . Thank you all for continuing that loving care. A.t. hays


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